The brilliance of “Good Enough”

Reading with the kids

At some point in my 20’s…

I worked with a registered dietician. I don’t recall the impetus for seeing her, nor what results I gained from her expertise, but I do recall some sound advice she gave me.  When it came to food choices, and still enjoying indulgences, she suggested to look my food choices over three days versus just one day.  For instance, I might have a celebratory meal on a Saturday evening that included everything from a cheesy appetizer, to a decadent dessert to a night cap. But on Sunday I might start the day with a nourishing bowl of oatmeal, a high protein lunch and homemade soup for dinner.  Then on Monday it might be hot cereal again for breakfast and a salad for lunch but also a couple freshly baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon and pasta with veggies for dinner.  I think you get the point.  She wanted me to look at my nutrition over a few days rather than try to ‘perfect’ each day of eating. I have been thinking a lot about this perspective during quarantine. Not so much as it relates just to food, but as it relates to, well…everything. 

Take yesterday for example. Did I get in any exercise? Negative. Not so much as a stretch or walk around the cul de sac. But I had other “wins”.  I made homemade yogurt. I cut my 3 month old baby’s tiny fingernails (no easy feat!).  My son and I cleaned our glass slider with him shooting far too much Windex on the glass and me catching it with the shammy.  It was actually quite comical. Later we made homemade vanilla ice cream.  I had a total of five minutes to myself that day. I used it to catch up on a few emails.  Today was different. We spent a lot of time outside, I exercised with my TRX and got in a modest walk.  My oldest honed his scooter skills. Meals were quick because they were based on leftovers. No desserts today, but goodies from my son’s Easter egg basket (did I tell you we used all the leftover candy from Halloween and Valentine’s for his Easter eggs??? SHHHHH!! Don’t tell him!!) I “wore” my tiny human a lot so I could multi task and pick up the house. Tonight I write. Tomorrow I will try to make stew, get in some Pilates and try to encourage my son to play with something other than trucks.  We will likely Facetime with a family member because we haven’t in a couple days. Maybe we will plant more seeds in the backyard in our little raised bed we are nudging along. Maybe Giove and I will give Eliano a bath – an event the oldest enjoys more than the youngest.  Maybe we will watch one too many cartoons and have a melt down when we turn off the TV.  (We hope this doesn’t happen, but come on…we ain’t perfect.) 

All in all, after three days a diversity of things have been experienced. 

I have never been much a hard core schedule person, so perhaps this is why this view of life during “safer at home” works for me.  I guess, in a spiritual sense, I am trying to give myself grace by knowing that I can’t get it all (good exercise, home cooking, cleaning, educational enrichment, virtual socializing, etcetera, etcetera) in one day.  But three days?  Yes, more doable.  Good enough. 

Ahh “good enough.” That phrase makes many of us twinge, no? At least it used to have that affect on me.  But two very different situations led me to be convinced that good enough was not a cop-out, or a fail.  The first was in Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection.  I think the title hints at what I am getting at so I won’t elaborate on her writing but I will say GET THE BOOK.  The second was about two months ago, when we were all living our normalcy and I was just one month postpartum.  I was getting out for regular walks by myself.  In fact, it was the single daily goal of mine (besides keep tiny humans alive). My mom would come, watch the kiddos and I would go out for a breezy walk by myself, solely limited by either my energy levels or when I received a text that the baby was awake and wanted to eat.  But there was always one tricky thing about these walks…Giove always wanted to come.  Often, I would take him willingly.  But that day, about two months ago, I really wanted to get out by myself.  And so, as my mother will tell you, I started to reason with my four and half year old son (for better or for worse) as I tied up my shoes. 

 Me: “Honey, mama needs to go on a walk by herself.  It’s good for mama.  It helps me be a good mama.” 

Giove. With a pouty but sincere face:
“But you already are a good Mama.”

Me…holding back a smile and a tear: 
“Well, I will be a BETTER Mama after a walk.”

Giove (who by the way, continues to play with his front loader through this conversation):
“But Mama, you are a good enough Mama.  You are good enough for me.”

Me…Speechless. Raw. Whole. Loved. 

I gave him a hug.  I looked him in his chocolate brown eyes and I thanked him.  I said I’d be back soon. Yes, I still went on my walk. Yes he was fine and content with Grandma.  But that day I was reminded that good enough is often more than enough.  Not a cop-out. Not what I didn’t accomplish in one day but instead took me three days.  Not an ounce of failure or a measure of inadequacy. Good enough can actually be just what you have the bandwidth for in a given situation. What you can do whole-heartedly.  What others see in you that makes a positive difference to them. 

So my friends, I encourage you to see your efforts during this unstable and unsure time as good enough. That the Zoom call you hosted to wish your family members hello on Easter or Passover wasn’t the same of course as last year, but it was something.  That the homemade gym you have made in your garage or living room by rolling out your mat and grabbing some dusty weights is not your first choice, but you are moving.  That you don’t have a masters in education, but you are doing your best to enrich your children with their homeschooling or well, through…life. 

Do what you can. Do it well. Take pride in yourself and how you are reinventing your work, your home, even your relationships.  One day this will all be over but we will most likely be different because of it.  Amist the sadness, loss and confusion, let’s also remember our resourcefulness, our courage and our resilience.  

Who’s with me?

In being good enough, 

xo
Francine

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